Just like there are many types of doctors and other health care professionals and aides, there is a variety of caregivers. We take a look here at the many kinds of caregivers who may assist someone with their activities of daily living as an individual or part of a team.
Family Caregivers: Statistics year after year tell us that the typical family caregiver is a middle-aged woman caring for an elderly parent (or parent-in-law), but of course that does not tell the whole story. A spouse may become a caregiver, a college-age grandchild may become a caregiver, a dear friend and neighbor who feels like family may be doing some caregiving, and so on. There might be several family members pitching in to help out, or a whole family may essentially become caregivers if a loved one moves in when help is needed. While this is usually an unpaid role, in some states there is Medicaid reimbursement for family caregivers.
Non-medical in-home caregivers: A professionally-trained caregiver can help someone in their own home—including if that home is in a facility without a staff of caregivers for each individual—with many daily tasks to help ensure their physical safety and general well-being. Some non-medical in-home caregivers might be Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), or Registered Nurses (RNs), depending on local regulations. These caregivers might help someone safely get in and out of the shower, provide medication reminders, safely assist with lifting someone from a bed or chair, be part of meal preparation, and much more. These caregivers can also become companions who are there to listen, enjoy a game or activity together, talk about the day’s news, and in other ways be a friend while also providing the care needed. These caregivers can simultaneously be providing respite care for beleaguered family caregivers who need to take care of themselves.
Home Health Care Caregivers: Home health is not the same thing as home care and is usually prescribed by a physician for a short-term medical need, such a physical therapy or occupational therapy. A non-medical in-home caregiver might help an individual get ready for their home health care appointment by assisting with dressing or providing transportation to the office.
Hospice Caregivers: Hospice care specifics will vary depending on the organization and perhaps even state regulations, but expect this to supplement the care of daily activities rather than rely on it for all caregiving needs.
Virtual Caregiving: When it’s not safe for people to receive caregivers into their living space, virtual care can be set up, or a professional caregiver taking the necessary safety precautions can be there to assist with technology so an individual can connect with a medical provider or a family member who cannot be there in person. Virtual visits can be a sort of companion caregiving benefit too, as the client can have someone to talk with about their concerns or joys of the day.Adult Day Services: Not everyone thrives in their home environment and there can be some benefit to spending time at a local adult day services center, where there are activities and social opportunities for people over age 65, and possible physical exercise options. A family or non-medical in-home caregiver might be of help with grooming and transportation before and after these outings.
Other types of caregiving: While non-medical caregivers can do some light housekeeping, it can be an option to hire people trained in just house cleaning to keep a home pleasant and safe for those who are not up to these routine chores. For people who are living with dementia, experts recommend services be paired with someone who has training in dementia care. Meals on Wheels is a volunteer organization that is widely available and can be paired with other types of caregiving.